Yesterday we kicked off our year end Pyrotechniiiiiics Awards with polls for the best and worst play by play person of the year. Today, we shift over a chair for voting on the best and worst game analyst of 2011. As with yesterday, there are a few peope that inspire enough praise and criticism to earn a spot on both lists. Voting will remain open throughout the week and there will be more polls on the way tomorrow! As always, these totally prestigious and influential awards are decided by you! Here are your nominees...
Last night's Monday Night Football game between the Falcons and Saints featured an interesting choice to do the game's introduction: former Golden Girls star Betty White.
I know White has achieved cult status over the years, mainly stemming from her stint hosting Saturday Night Live, but this video was just... bizarre. The majority of the MNF audience is male, so why spend so much time talking about how hot Matt Ryan and various other QBs are? And did we really need another Tebow reference just a couple days after a four interception performance?
One of the best Christmas presents AA received was Craig James' departure from ESPN to run for the Republican nomination to fill Kay Bailey Hutchison's United States Senate seat in Texas. James' 2011 at AA was as dominant as Barry Bonds at his enlarged headed best as he won every major tournament that honors the most awful announcers. But now with him out of the booth we get the fun of watching a maligned college football analyst run for the United States Senate. James is so far behind the field in terms of money and public support that he has virtually no chance in the race. Also, Jesse "The Body" Ventura was more qualified in running for public office.
James' hopeless Senate campaign promises to be an interesting ride for everyone and it began in earnest yesterday with an appearance on Fox News.
James on his qualifications for Senate:
"I ate a lot of mayonnaise only sandwiches and ketchup only sandwiches."
James' straight talk:
"Our country is changing, Washington is off its rails, I'm living on Real Street, I understand this."
James on overcoming the Leach scandal:
"There are no allegations. It is indisputable amongst players, coaches, trainers, doctors. Everyone there knew Adam had a concussion and on back to back practices Mike Leach ordered him put in dark solitary confinement. You can't do that to a human being."
"There's some who just don't want to open their eyes and understand reality."
"I'll stand against evil. Right is right, wrong is wrong, it's never right to do wrong."
-Craig James lives on a weird place called "Real Street." -Craig James ate mayonnaise and ketchup sandwiches as a kid. -Craig James thinks it's everyone else that doesn't understand reality when he totally ignores this. -Mike Leach is evil. -Craig James will stand against evil. -Craig James will save America.
Late in the fourth quarter of tonight's Monday Night Football game, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees broke the 27 year old single season passing yards record of Dan Marino. Brees needed 305 yards entering the night to set the record and looked well on his way after throwing for over 200 in the first half. After the Saints defense and special teams stepped up in the second half, Brees needed just 30 yards on a drive with just over five minutes left in the game. The Saints came out throwing and Brees broke the record on a nine yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles.
The ESPN crew did a solid job tracking the record tonight, referencing its importance but not allowing it to completely dominate and overshadow the game (although the giant graphics may have been a bit much at times). In truth, Brees' march throughout the season in breaking one of the most important records in NFL history has been incredibly quiet until tonight. Brees has been overshadowed by players and stories like Aaron Rodgers and Tim Tebow much of the year, but tonight was his night.
First, here's the video of the Brees touchdown pass to Sproles and Mike Tirico's call of the record breaker...
But the highlight of the night may actually be Brees' locker room speech afterwards that was caught on camera by ESPN. It is amazing that ESPN was able to capture this locker room footage and speech from Brees to his teammates. This locker room speech by Brees is as pure as a sporting moment you will find and an awesome moment for sports fans anywhere to see. The way Brees gives praise to his teammates gives you a window into what makes him one of the all-time greats to play the game and one of the most respected and popular athletes around. And the spontaneous "that's what she said" moment adds just enough laughs to perfect the moment. It's a remarkable must-see video from inside the Saints locker room...
To close out the year we're expanding our year end awards vote to include several categories beyond best and worst announcer of the year. In trying to think of a name for these awards (because the Awfulies just sucked), I drew inspiration from our favorite clip of the year - PYROTECHNICS!! Actually, the name kinda fits because pyrotechnics and lighting things on fire can be a good or a bad thing. It's all encompassing. And as always, the award winners will be decided by your vote.
We'll run new polls throughout the week and up first are the votes for best and worst play by play person of 2011. There are a lot of great choices for each poll today and as you may notice, some announcers are up for both categories speking to their polarity as announcers. Here are your nominees...
With any lockout, there is bound to be backlash against the sport and fans vowing never to watch another game. With the frustration of intense negotiations and infuriating tactics used in the NBA Lockout, the Association didn't do their fans any favor. The "millionaires vs billionaires" tag was an all too easy label for the negotiations and the apocalyptic language used by both sides endeared little support until the lockout was finally ended a few weeks ago. But then David Stern doubled down on his role as the villanious kingmaker of professional sports by pulling the competitive balance strings and deciding where Chris Paul was going to play basketball this year. All in all, you couldn't blame NBA fans if they were turned away from the beginning of the season on Christmas Day.
However, in what can be nothing but encouraging news for the Association, ratings were up in four of the five Christmas Day games yesterday. The following numbers for each broadcast window come via the excellent Sports Media Watch...
12 ET: Knicks v Celtics - 4.1 rating, up 52% vs last year 2:30 ET: Heat v Mavericks - 5.6 rating, up 6% vs last year 5 ET: Bulls v Lakers - 6.4 rating, down 12% vs last year 8 ET: Thunder v Magic - 1.9 rating, up 36% vs last year 10:30 ET: Clippers v Warriors - 2.3 rating, up 77% vs last year
Those are all great numbers for the league considering the only game down from last year (Bulls v Lakers) was the third highest rating for a regular season game on ABC. Only Heat/Lakers last year on Christmas Day and the 2004 Shaq v Kobe matchup gained higher ratings. More great news for the NBA are the increased numbers on ESPN in primetime considering they were going up against Sunday Night Football, albeit not a very compelling Bears-Packers blowout. Chris Paul's debut with the Clippers pulled in impressive numbers in the nightcap almost doubling last year's rating.
Like the NFL Lockout, it doesn't seem that the NBA Lockout caused any tangible amount of fans to turn away from the product because the season wasn't lost. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if ratings were up throughout the course of the season with the compacted 66 game schedule and all the high profile teams and superstars that will be must see television. In spite of all their best efforts to prevent it, the league is still trending upwards... which is why the lockout was so frustrating in the first place. If we have more exciting finishes like this Derrick Rose game winner against the Lakers yesterday, those numbers will continue to improve.
Given the results of this Saturday's games, there was little doubt associated with what may be the Week 17 NFL flex game. In fact, the league announced it would be Giants-Cowboys Part II on Sunday Night Football even before the end of Week 16. Even though these two teams met on Sunday Night Football less than a month ago in Week 14, it's the only "win or go home" game on the Week 17 schedule, so the move makes sense. According to JP at the 506, it's the first time since 1990 that a division rivalry sees both their games played in primetime in the same season. Here's the announcement from the league on the details of the Week 17 flexes for SNF and the late afternoon Sunday games:
The Week 17 Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants game on Sunday, January 1 will be played at 8:20 PM ET on NBC, the Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns games will move to 4:15 PM ET on CBS and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons game will move to 4:15 PM ET on FOX, the NFL announced today. Game times for the Chicago Bears-Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers-New Orleans Saints afternoon games on FOX will be announced following results of the Week 16 Sunday and Monday night games.
Bengals-Ravens may have been the other consideration, but the NFL decided to play the AFC North games at the same time on Sunday so as to not give any of the teams a competitive advantage. Instead, it'll be 8-7 Dallas at 8-7 New York in a primetime matchup that will draw big ratings and uncontrollable excitement from the east coast bias crowd... and much schadenfreude from the rest of the country. How much fun will it be to see one of these seasons blow up in likely hilarious circumstances on national television? I for one can't wait. If the Week 14 encounter was any indication of how this regular season ending game may turn out, get yo popcorn ready.
The NBA season got underway with a quintupleheader on TNT, ABC, and ESPN yesterday on Christmas Day. The Knicks beat the Celtics in an early classic, the Heat sent a statement to the league by running the defending champion Mavericks off the floor, Chicago shocked the Lakers with a dramatic comeback, Oklahoma City easily handled Orlando, and the Lob City Era began as well.
But the highlight of the day may have come at the very beginning of the 12+ hours of NBA action with this video package from TNT. It's simply one of the best I've ever seen, if not the best video montage in sports. At the very least, this is on the elite One Shining Moment level. The short intro seemlessly combines old and new with current players appearing alongside the best in NBA history as one famous scene from NBA history leads to another. It's nearly two minutes of a basketball utopia that can hopefully, finally, close the door on the ugliness of the NBA Lockout.
Merry Christmas Eve! The full NFL slate shifts to Saturday this week with Christmas Day falling on a Sunday. There's no night game either, so all the action takes place at 1 and 4 ET today. Packers/Bears happens Sunday night and Saints/Falcons finishes the week on Monday Night. You can check the comments below in the SOS open thread and our Twitter timeline for all submissions. You can also tweet us by using the hashtag #SOSAA to send in quotes. Then, we'll be back on Tuesdays with 15-20 nominees and you'll vote on our Top 10 for the week. SOS winners will be announced Thursdays with updated standings. Below you can find the links to last week's Top 10 and up to the second standings along with this week's NFL announcing schedule with broadcast maps. Enjoy your holiday weekend!
After retiring from the NBA this summer, Shaquille O’Neal joined up with the gang at TNT, adding another former player to the Inside the NBA staff. But now, there’s a rumor circulating that Shaq is looking to wrestle at this coming year’s WrestleMania. His rumored opponent is The Big Show, who WWE bills as “the largest athlete in professional sports."
I was able to think of one announcer that got involved with wrestling, though in a decidedly non-physical aspect: Milwaukee Brewers play by play man Bob Uecker, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010. It’ll be interesting to see if TNT even plugs O’Neal’s appearances with the company (if they happen), due to WWE’s relationship with Viacom. TNT used to be the home of WCW Monday Nitro, which was taken off the air more than a decade ago when WWE bought out WCW. Wrestling hasn’t made an appearance on Turner stations since, and I really don’t know what the company would do if O’Neal decided to get involved.
It would be pretty cool to see the Inside the NBA crew interact with some of the WWE elite, though. Again, this is highly implausible, but imagine the Big Show or other WWE wrestlers invading the Inside the NBA set, and dressing Ernie Johnson down on a level that Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley just wish they could. And hell, think about Barkley and Smith showing up on WWE Raw or Smackdown to support their co-worker.
I’d love to see a crossover between the two flagship shows, but I think it’s extremely unlikely to happen. But it would be a nice way to shake things up for fans of both programs. Neither the NBA or WWE really need to leech off of each other, but I’m sure fans of both products would love the crossover.